di Marcello Mento
Milan, November 14 - Strikes and demonstrations tied up traffic in Milan early Wednesday as protesters began a pan-European show of solidarity against rising unemployment and austerity measures. Transport workers, train conductors and hospital employees were among those who took to picket lines in Milan, while police said large pockets of students and labor unions were gathering around the city. Protests were also planned around Rome as parliament was scheduled to vote on the government's so-called Stability Law, a government budget reform bill. Susanna Camusso, the head of Italy's powerful CGIL labor confederation, was leading protests in Terni, central Italy, in front of the troubled Tk-Ast steel mill. At least 100 demonstrations were scheduled around the country. In addition to Italy, strikes were expected in the fellow debt-ridden countries of Greece, Portugal and Spain, with other demonstrations organized around northern and central Europe. Responding to the European Trade Union Confederation's call to walk out on the job Wednesday, an estimated 40 groups in 23 countries are involved in protests. Airports across Europe, especially Spain and Portugal, have already been filling with passengers from cancelled flights.